All 2 entries tagged Polarity

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October 20, 2010

The Invisible Ladder

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Recession, n. Receding, withdrawal, from a place or point; receding part of object, recess; slump in trade.

Strangely enough, and contrary to expectations, a number of last year's creative writing graduates from the Warwick Writing Programme, who I've been in touch with or bumped into in train stations, are thriving. Quite a few of them have turned their back on postgraduate study, which is a shame, but universities are often considered an expensive delaying tactic when the economic weather is excessively short of pula.

By thriving, I mean they're gainfully interning, or even self-employing, paying their bills and feeding their pet iguanas. A couple have managed to pick up contracts to deliver creative workshops in schools. Another couple have attached to the walls of a theatre like the best of the bloodsucking race of giant leeches known to the Amazon, one as a stage manager, the other in a writing collective. Tenacity is what is important now: holding on until the next opportunity reveals itself, either in this place of work, or elsewhere.

Recess, n., &v.t. & i. 1. Temporary cessation from work, vacation, esp. of Parliament; receding of water, land, glacier, etc., from previous limit, amount by which it recedes; retired or secret place (in the inmost ~es of the Alps [as created by Tristan Tzara], of the heart); receding part of mountain chain etc., niche or alcove of wall; (anat.) fold or indentation in organ.

This steady advance across the invisible, while blindfolded, is how career progression in the arts is understood to work, by society in general. A feat of extraordinary proportions is conducted by these individuals, stepping unsurely and insecurely across the abyss of bohemia on the invisible rungs of an ancient ladder. Witnesses swear they can hear the ladder creaking in the slightest breeze and with each footfall they grip their lorgnettes tighter and gasp and cry aloud to themselves about law conversions and mutter curses under their breath, like, "What about a job with a tie?"

Fortunately, along the ladder's invisible-to-the-unimaginative-eye route, are various halfway houses and havens. Whole palaces sometimes exist along branches just a mere rung away from the base of the ladder. Like a bonus Nintendo level, aspiring artists can slip down pipes into the worlds constructed by the lionised survivors of society's despairing conservatism. These havens provide many opportunities, including training, photocopying, ushering, reception management, gallery monitoring, shadowing opportunities, rodents and other snacks one can take home to feed the reptile collection and the chance to upgrade the quality of silk used in one's blindfold.

Hopefully they also provide a small degree of the meditative time in which one can continue to project the scintilliating visions of future creations onto the recesses of the eye's curtains. And the other key benefit is a further private space within these semi-private sanctuaries, containing the key to further palaces, underground coin-runs and mushroom grow-bags. Most novices will find that there's an essential balance to be learned between staying too long in one place, exhausting the creative water level, and moving on to the next opportunity.

-ion, suf. mainly thr. F -ion (also direct) f. L -ionem (nom. -io) forming nouns of condition or action, rarely f. adjj, & nn. (communio), occas. f. vb stems (legio), but chiefly f. p.p. stems in t, s, x, producing the compound suff. -TION, -SION (-xion), -ITION, -ATION.

Access to these innovative wombs of opportunity often arrives through determination and simple awareness-raising. A noun of action must be employed, as the doors are often open, but unattended. The hopeful ladder-walker must make the effort firstly to find the sewer lids of relevant chutes and then to post an interesting enough request through the letterboxes (in the form of a general CV and cover letter, or application to the relevant scheme) to acquire the correct sesames to unlock the portals. Some of these gateways are incredibly crowded, the passwords jealously guarded, while the opportunities within amount to nothing more than a small medal, in the shape of a dessicated kidney bean that one can wear like an albatross to insist upon one's tenacity and willingness to suffer for one's arts career (cf. Penguin summer internship programme).

Other opportunities, often unguarded by anything more than a thin sheet of Japanese wall or theatre skrim, contain such unimaginable heaps of kidney beans and bowls of water in which to soak them, that, even if one is not particularly taken by kidney beans, the urge to share this stash will be irrepressible. Soon, everyone will be wearing their very own kidney bean medal, eating homemade frijoles and teetering gainfully forwards on the endless, invisible ladder. Towards what exactly?

Ideally, an internship at Polarity Magazine UK. These exist only in the mind at this stage, but we are looking for web content, links to exciting personal web pages where things surreal manifest on a regular basis, online video content, suggestions for punishments for the Proposed System of Taxation on the Internal Mind, articles in this vein, creative content and, yes indeedy, marketing support. Heaps of that. We even have an idea of what these might entail. In return, you can expect kidney beans by the coffee cup, critical support for your own artistic development, and immortalisation in the opening pages of the print magazine.

Email us with ideas, suggestions, CVs and feedback.

September 08, 2010

Issue 1, ‘Death vs. Taxes’: Neeral Bhatt on the visual arts perspective

J.G Ballard and Eduardo Paolozzi together in 1968

The screeching acid yellow of the cover is a bit too much, don’t you think? Under test conditions it has actually proven to attract wasps.

Actually, everything about this magazine is wired with hysteria. Its look, its themes, the intent. This hysteria took a year and a half to reach its ne plus ultra, and now the physical object and all its planned web-peripheries are the exposition of our lovely little problem.  Which is striving to be as alive between the pages as possible. Awkward, sensual and as slippery as a bolting rabbit.

Art editors have a strange role. You often have to speak up for the inexpressible. Images are psychic objects made of heavier material than hieroglyphs. I categorically did not want to make a literary magazine that contained images as window-dressing for the writing. I wanted to give respect to the artists as equal contributors to the concept of the magazine. This is a puzzle I have yet to solve. For me it is the main interest of the project. Identifying the problem is hopefully the first step.

“There should be a magazine for every state of mind” – Antonin Artaud

I have noticed that there are very few high-profile artist-writers, or people whose multi-platform work is packaged and consumed together as one holistic practice. Call it attention deficit culture, marketing  pragmatism or a conceptual fracture between individuals working in different traditions and markets. This honest, integrated practice: was it ever thus? Perhaps it was never thus, or perhaps contemporary separate academic training grounds for aspirant writers and artists deepen the fracture. Perhaps this mixed state of mind needs a mixed magazine.
Hazel Atashroo, ‘Heroine (pulls herself together)’

Hazel Atashroo, ‘Heroine (pulls herself together)’
Clandestine performance to camera
Photograph, 5cm x 4cm negative

There’s space here to introduce just one piece of artist’s work. You’ll have to buy the magazine to see the rest.  Hazal Atashroo’s ‘She reveals/conceals’ series at first appears to be a very quiet kind of exposure*. Violent, flash-revealed nature. A pair of hands feyly clutching at stage velvet. And is the girl on the rooftop a bedroom superhero, a suicide commando or a diver abdicating through and away from the waking, domestic world. All forms of passage, rite, exchange and sacrifice. This is what ‘Death vs. Taxes’ meant to me.

My ‘ultimate’ right now is the sensualist fantasy with socialist concerns. The serious unpacking comes after the experiencing, if you like. Make the cycle longer. Give yourself some lag time for enjoyment. I am into fantasies. I want to extricate why I have the fantasies I have, but I will try not to feel guilty that I am, initially, very prone to those fantasies.

China Mieville, who teaches Creative Writing at Warwick, said something wonderful about Louise Bourgeois’ much loved sculpture ‘Maman’ when I interviewed him back in June:

'Maman’ is very, very much part of the world.  Because it’s ready to stalk, ready to walk. It’s just we haven’t quite worked out how it got there. Whereas, as these other pieces are saying, ‘we are in ourself, we are of ourself, that’s it, the edges are closed’. That kind of event-ness I like a lot.

The visual arts-centred interview concerns China’s favourite cult illustrators, his feelings about contemporary art and how he personally chooses to navigate internet culture. You can read the interview in the upcoming Issue 2 ‘Arms vs. Song’. We’re looking at ways in which we push the interview format in future. Perhaps we’ll select subjects outside of the arts : canvass the imaginations of the non self-selectors and see what these conversations throw up.

Our first stockist is Tenderproduct. A shop with an exhibition space attached (Tenderpixel).  Chief curator Lisa Slominski has very kindly decided to take a chance on us. If you want to buy a copy of Polarity in person and check out an exciting new show in the process, then their new exhibition ‘Traverse Tourist’ takes place from the 7th to the 26th of September. The exhibition aims to unthread the complex theory of ‘globalisation’ through a display of artist and designer’s interactions with the souvenir-object.

A sample Tenderproduct

by Tarjan Patel

*I would soundtrack Hazel’s work with Fever Ray’s cover of ‘Stranger Than Kindness’

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